On Friday, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis denied the wiretapping charge levelled by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. Both senior NCP leader and state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut claimed that the previous BJP government led by Fadnavis had tapped the phone of key political leaders during the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections held in 2019. Maintaining that tapping of phones was not the tradition of Maharashtra, Fadnavis clarified that he was not opposed to a probe into the matter.
Maharashtra Former CM&BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis: Phone tapping of opposition leaders is not a tradition of Maharashtra. Our govt never gave such an order. Present state govt is free to do any probe by any agency. Even Shiv Sena leaders were a part of State Home Ministry then. pic.twitter.com/tPpkWIXTMf— ANI (@ANI) January 24, 2020
Speaking to the media earlier in the day, Deshmukh alleged that officials of the state government were sent to Israel on government expense to procure the Pegasus software. He contended that the same software was used to spy on the opposition leaders. This was a reference to WhatsApp’s revelation that Indians were among those whose phones were hacked using Pegasus.
Anil Deshmukh remarked, "During the BJP government's regime when the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections were held, the government had attempted to tap the phones of senior Congress and NCP leaders to know whom they were talking to and what they spoke. The allegations state that some state officials were sent to Israel on government funding to procure the software. The software was then used to spy on leaders by BJP government and we have initiated a probe into this.”
Responding to this controversy, Deepak Kesarkar who was MoS Home in the Fadnavis government stated that it would be improper for him to comment before the conclusion of the probe. He acknowledged that the tapping of phones of political leaders was "objectionable". However, he made a sensational claim that the phones of the Sena leaders were tapped even during the Congress-NCP regime.
Former Maharashtra MoS Home & Shiv Sena leader Deepak Kesarkar: As far as phone tapping is concerned, it was known to all that phones of Shiv Sena leaders were tapped even during Congress regime. #Maharashtra https://t.co/qzR1TeDqME— ANI (@ANI) January 24, 2020